Richard Collings resigned as president of Southwestern Community College on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and the resignation was effective as of Wednesday, Feb. 9. The board of trustees is moving forward to begin the search for a new president, according to Conrad Burrell, chairman of the SCC board of trustees.
The reason for Collings’ resignation is not known at this time, but sources close to the college have alleged that serious medical problems may have forced the decision on Collings, who had suffered health issues after starting the new position six months ago.
“I don’t know why he left,” said Burrell, unable to confirm whether medical issues were the cause of the resignation. “We’ve met and we are going to try to get a new president as soon as possible. Hopefully it won’t take too long.” Before Collins’ installment, the board had a number of candidates for the position, of which he was one. Burrell said the board will revisit those candidates to replace Collings.
In the meantime, the board selected Janet Burnette, executive vice president and CFO, to serve as interim president for a school that serves more than 9,200 students. She served briefly as interim president before Collings came on board in August.
“Ms. Burnette has served previously as interim president of the college and we feel her knowledge of the college and level of experience will best serve the college during this transitory period,” said Burrell. Burnette has been in SCC’s employ for 22 years.
According to Burnette, little will change with Collings gone, as the school has a well wrought system. “Everything is moving smoothly,” she said. “We have good leadership, great faculty and everyone is on the same page. It’s the same school.”
Last summer, Southwestern Community College President Cecil Groves retired after 13 years of service to the school. Upon his retirement, Groves was hailed by school administrators as a tremendous leader who advanced and expanded the school by increasing enrollment and establishing the early college program. June 30 was even proclaimed as “Dr. Cecil Groves Day” by Jackson County Commissioners, who wished to mark the end of his extensive career with the community college.
Collings, Groves’ successor, took office after a great deal of searching for a replacement by the SCC Board of Trustees.
“Although our presidential search produced many outstanding candidates, Dr. Collings was chosen because of his impressive background and credentials,” said Burrell in a statement. “We feel his experience in education and knowledge of our service area will greatly benefit the college and the communities we serve.”
In November, Collings had said he looked forward to serving as president of the community college. “I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “It’s not a rescue job. The general direction has always been to keep the focus on teaching and learning. That will continue.”
“This is a great experience with great faculty and staff and students,” said Collings of SCC, assuring that he has no plans to move. “I’m here to stay,” he said.